A Question For The Ages by Phil
For me, fall has always been a season of new beginnings. The heat of summer and vacation time is past, school is back in session, and it's time to buckle down and get to work. If you share my sentiments, this insight from the book of Genesis might be just perfect for you today.
Many biblical scholars believe the "Angel of the Lord" mentioned in the Old Testament is an appearance of God himself in human form, most likely a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Who do you suppose is the first person mentioned in the Bible to receive an audience with the most high? Abraham... Moses... David? Nope. The first person mentioned wasn't a great Bible hero, a Hebrew, or even a man. It was Sarah's Egyptian slave girl, Hagar!
To briefly recap the story, God told Abraham and Sarah they would have a bunch of kids, but they were both old and the biology didn't seem to be working in their favor. So Sarah suggested that Abraham have a child with her servant girl Hagar. I'm not sure what Abraham was thinking, but anyone could see this was not going to work out well. (This may be the only instance when "Yes, dear" is NOT the key to a happy marriage.) Sure enough, Hagar became pregnant and there was tension between her and Sarah (what did I tell ya?) that led to Hagar running away. That's where we find her in Genesis 16:
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
- Genesis 16:7-8a
We can take away three important lessons from this short interaction. First, even though Hagar was an outsider and disobediently running away, God knew her name. Friend, no matter who you are, what you've done - even if you are running in the complete opposite direction from the Lord, He knows your name. You are not insignificant, overlooked or forgotten. You matter to God and He knows who you are. He knows you by name.
Given that fact, the question to follow seems rather strange on first look. If God knows everything, why does He ask Hagar, "where have you come from?" I believe this is God allowing Hagar an opportunity to be honest about her actions. She could have added deceit to her disobedience by saying, "Oh, I'm just out to get a bit of fresh air," but instead she answered truthfully, "I’m running away from my mistress Sarai," - Genesis 16:8b. We can't move forward where God wants us to go until we honestly own what we've done in our past. That's called confession, which leads to forgiveness of our sins, which leads to a restored relationship between us and God. That's a great question for each of us, "Where have you come from?" Are you going to be honest with yourself and God about your failures, shortcomings, sins, and disobedience? He already knows, but when we confess them to Him those past choices no longer have power over us. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:36
Finally, God asks one more question, "Where are you going?" In other words, "what are you going to do about it?" After having this encounter with the Lord, are you going to follow God's path or keep going in your own direction? Who's going to be in charge, you or the Lord? It's interesting that Hagar doesn't even have a chance to answer this one. God tells her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." - vs. 9. God even adds a promise, "I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count." - vs. 10. Now the ball is in her court. This time, Hagar chooses to obey, and the rest of her story unfolds in the next chapters of Genesis.
Whether you've been walking with the Lord for a long time or never made the choice to follow Him, God knows you by name. Now is a perfect time to personally answer God's question to Hagar. "Where have you come from..." Will you admit your past self-serving choices? There is nothing you've done that God can't forgive if you ask Him. "And where are you going?" Are you going to keep being the master of your life, or will you turn the reigns over to God and follow where He leads? The choice is yours. Your answer will determine how you live the rest of your life. Not that you won't mess up again in the future, we all do. But each time we do, we have another chance to answer that ancient question...
"Where have you come from, and where are you going?"
God is always the right choice,
Phil and Pam
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